One of the largest public broadcasters in the Netherlands, the KRO, says it’s considering an experiment by offering TV programmes on the Internet without background music. The reason is the large number of complaints the broadcaster receives, mostly from people over 50, who say that they find it more difficult to listen to voices with music behind them. The KRO hopes to provide the option of turning off the music in programmes offered as repeats on the Internet, though KRO’s Media Director Ton Verlind admits that he’s not yet sure if it will be technically possible.
Verlind says it’s a generation problem, caused by changes in human hearing as people get older. Taking the background music out of all the programmes is possible, of course, but it wouldn’t please younger members of the audience. Verlind says the KRO is looking for a balance - its policy is only to use music where it’s artistically justified, and music played under the spoken word must be not too loud, and without a lot of bass.
(Source: De Gooi- en Eemlander)
Andy Sennitt says: I’m 56, and I can’t say that I’ve ever been greatly troubled by background music under speech, but perhaps that’s because I work in the media and I’m used to it. But I live alone, and can concentrate on whatever I’m watching. I think a lot of the problem is that most people live in families, and family members distract each other from concentrating. So they tend to blame the producers.
Having said that, it has always been my contention that TV producers in general do not concentrate sufficiently on the audio, as they’re too busy with the video. The audio quality from many TV studios would not be considered adequate for radio. When I hear extracts from, say, a TV news bulletin on one of the radio networks, the audio often sounds poor by comparison. Getting the balance right between voice levels and background music is also something that many TV producers are not very good at. Leaving out the music entirely may help some viewers, but it’s really covering up the fact that the programme wasn’t produced very well in the first place.